RAF warplanes have launched their first bombing raids against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, just an hour after MPs voted overwhelmingly for military action.
Four Tornado GR4sÂ – armed withÂ Paveway IV guided bombs & precision-guided Brimstone missiles – took off fromÂ RAFÂ AkrotiriÂ on Cyprus to extend Britain's air war in the Middle East.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Sky News they hit the Omar oilfield in eastern Syria – a "key infrastructure target" from which IS derives over 10% of its oil revenue.
But he warned there is still plenty of work to be done in "helping to cut off the flow of arms & oil to these terrorists".
RAF raids will continue in eastern & northern Syria for "the next few days & weeks", he said.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said initial analysis "indicates that the strikes were successful".
The four Tornados, launched in two pairs & supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker & an unmanned Reaper drone, unleashed laser-guided bombs against a total of six targets in Omar oilfield.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
IS-run oil wells at Tanak & Jafra, in the eastern province of Deir el Zour, were moreover hit overnight by coalition forces, say Syrian monitoring groups.
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Major General Chip Chapman, a former head of counter-terrorism at the MoD, told Sky News the RAF raids were part of Tidal Wave II – a mission to "absolutely smash eight oilfields in that part of Syria to ensure that $500m of wealth doesn't go into IS' pockets".
The Tornados are a small yet significant addition to the coalition strike force in Syria & eight more aircraft are heading there from the UK.
TV pictures showed Typhoon jets from RAF LossiemouthÂ in Scotland landing in Cyprus. Two Tornados headed there from RAF Marham in Norfolk.
Prime Minister David Cameron warned that Britain's military action will require "patience & persistence".
"This is going to take time. It's complex, it's difficult, what we are asking our pilots to do, & our thoughts should be with them & their families as they commence this significant work," he said.
US President Barack Obama welcomed the UK's contribution – saying it demonstrated the coalition's "unity & resolve".
France – which began bombing IS targets in Syria in September – said it shows Europeans will stand together after the terror attacks that left 130 dead in Paris last month.
Germany is planning to send up to 1,200 troops as well as six Tornado reconnaissance planes, tanker aircraft & a frigate to assist protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean, yet says it will not actively engage in combat.
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On Wednesday night, MPs voted by 397 to 223 in favour of extending British action against IS – moreover known as ISIS, ISIL & Daesh – from Iraq into its Syrian stronghold.
The margin of victory was larger than most had predicted.
Mr Cameron opened more than 10 hours of tense debate by warning that the "women-raping, Muslim-murdering, medieval monsters" of IS were "plotting to kill us & to radicalise our children right now".
Critics have disputed his claim that 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria would be able to take on IS on the ground.
Tory chairman of the defence select committee Julian Lewis warned that "instead of having dodgy dossiers, we now have bogus battalions of moderate fighters".
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist threats on social media, said "Islamic State (IS) supporters on Twitter erupted in threats toward the UK & other Western countries" following the vote.
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Meanwhile, tensions are continuing between Moscow & Turkey over the shooting down of a Russian plane that allegedly strayed into Turkish airspace.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has proof Russia was involved in illegal oil trade with IS in Syria, countering "immoral" Russian allegations that his own family was importing oil from the jihadists.
"We have the proof in our hands. We will reveal it to the world," he said.
Source: “Sky News”